4 numbers to tell a story

Clean air matters.

How much PM2.5 is in the air really, really matters.

It matters because breathing it kills people.

In fact, if we were able to reduce PM2.5 to the levels established by the federal standard, we’d be able to save thousands of people’s lives.  Indeed, in Los Angeles County, PM2.5–related deaths are more than double the number of motor vehicle related deaths.  (According to page 5 of this report.)

As the California Air Resources Board explained:

PM2.5 poses more serious health risks: A large body of evidence has linked outdoor PM2.5 levels with premature deaths, hospitalizations, emergency room and doctor’s visits for respiratory illnesses or heart disease.  Studies also suggest that PM2.5 may influence the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms, and acute and chronic bronchitis.

Mostly, PM2.5 comes from burning fossil-fuels.  The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) is responsible for protecting air quality from emissions caused by stationary sources of fossil-fuel burners like powerplants, refineries, and industrial facilities.

So, why is the SCAQMD fighting so hard to ensure that even more PM2.5 can be released into our air?   Here are 4 numbers that try to put into perspective the effect of the SCAQMDs decision to change their rules to create more pollution allowing credits:


per year

People over 30 and infants who die prematurely in the South Coast Air Basin because of exposure to PM2.5


tons per day

PM10/2.5 that would be added  to the South Coast Air Basin using the emission reduction credits created by the South Coast Air Quality Management District in proposed Rule 1315


tons per day

Port of Los Angeles related PM2.5 emissions from all of the ocean-going vessels, harbor craft, cargo handling equipment, rail locomotives, and heavy-duty vehicles in 2008


The amount of review the SCAQMD believes is necessary for its decision to add this pollution to the Air Basin

Little wonder a Los Angeles Judge found that their decision do add 15 tons per day of PM to the air would have “real, foreseeable, and substantial environmental consequences.” It’s a real shame that the SCAQMD and a legion of industry lobbyist were able to convince Sacramento politicians that protecting our health wasn’t that important.

They say they are worried about “jobs.”  Well, it’s hard to work when you’re dead.

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